Colmor East End
The high plains of New Mexico can get very cold and nasty in the dead of winter. Fierce westerly winds blow unimpeded off the Rockies and during snowstorms can cause drifting and can drive temperatures to below zero. Though the temperatures will fall to near zero on this night of 29 December 2000, the wind is still and a sense of calm has descended on the Canadian River's valley. Colmor siding was extended in 1962 to 6250 feet from 3800 feet, and judging by the swing-out in the foreground, the depot sat between siding and main at this spot. This would imply that the east end signals were physically moved to their current location, concrete base and all. Despite the unstable surfacing of the siding and the fact that it is only 10.6 miles to the CTC controlled siding at Springer, Colmor remains a popular place for dispatchers to make meets. Incidentally, the siding signals are continuously lit, as they are on all sidings on the Raton line, because no siding is bonded or circuited, meaning that it is impossible to install approach-lit lighting.

 

Had the great Depression not interrupted Santa Fe's ambitious improvement plans, Colmor would have been the jumping off point for a cut-off that would have eliminated Raton Pass altogether and rejoin the mainline at Dodge City, Kansas. This would have made the northern transcontinental 69 miles shorter and would have avoided the 3% grades of Raton, basically doing what the original construction engineer would have wanted had not the financiers insisted a detour to service Pueblo, Colorado. Creating this cut-off, know as the Colmor cut-off, was to be formed by using existing branch lines and constructing new railroad in a similar way the Belen Cut-off was formed. Apparently there was no urgency as bits and piece were constructed during the 20s. Final ICC approval of the remaining miles to Colmor was approved in 1930 and construction made it as far as Farley, a mere 35 miles from Colmor, when work stopped in 1931. But even after economic conditions improved by the end of the 30's, the Santa Fe never returned to the project, and portions were even abandoned during WWII.

Today Colmor is nothing more than an abandoned town site, appearing as if those who once lived here got up one morning and never came back. An old gas station with pumps still in place stands next to the original highway, which was later relocated to the west, which in turn was replaced by I-25. It's hard to imagine what Colmor would have become had the cut-off had become a reality.

 

In a different season, a dissipating evening summer thunderstorm slowly moves off the Rift on onto the plains of eastern New Mexico.